First up, a pouty disclaimer. I do not claim to know everything about every comic book ever. That is more information that can fit in the human brain. Unless you are Stephen Hawking, in which case, you are to busy thinking about to the universe to think about Batman.

Second up, I am a DC girl. This does not mean I hate Marvel, or that I am planning to assassinate Stan Lee. I just dig Batman, is all.

I love Stan Lee, for the record. I like to cheer when he makes his cameos, I know he would like that I do.

Can you feel the love?

So, you want some comic books. It’s best to start small and go from there. Don’t buy everything on the ‘new releases’ wall in Forbidden Planet, because that’s like marrying someone before you’ve even dated them. Unnecessary commitment. Research.

Do you want blood and guts and gore and maiming? Check out The Walking Dead, The Punisher or 2000AD (starring Judge Dredd, who is seeing the bright light of fame and notoriety again after the recent- and awesome- Dredd 3D).

You can take the zombies out of the gore, etc.

If you’re after hugely recognizable characters with a butt-load of variety and a warm fuzzy feeling of familiarity, then take a peek at the Marvel roster. Spiderman, the X-men and the Avengers. Each of these are mid-movie franchise, with X-men and Spiderman being highly acclaimed reboots and the Avengers being a shiny, new, Whedonesque masterpiece.

Finally, and this is where I get all gushy and biased, if you are after superb writing, well-rounded (and wonderfully insane) characters and art that will make you weep with joy – give The New 52 a go. Last year, DC rebooted 52 of it’s best known titles, in an attempt to pull together the continuity a little better. And so far, so good. In my humble opinion, this is a great place for anyone to start, because each of the titles is only on #13 (at the most), and the first twelve (and the #0 issues, released on the one year mark) are easy enough to get your hands on without breaking the bank.

The Bat-Family went and got all grown up.

I haven’t read every title, but the ones that I am collecting are amazing. Particularly Batgirl, but I would say that.

That was a very vague over view, but I’m sure you get my point. Think about what you think you might be able to get into. Ask people for their opinion, there are literally hundreds of forums on the web, very friendly staff in Forbidden Planet, and a wonderful Northern Ireland based geekery blog called RefugeekNI, that you can find on both Facebook and Twitter…

Hint. Hint hint hint.

Tweet. Tweet tweet tweet.

Oh, and it’s worth knowing, comics won’t often make sense if you just buy random ones – they are generally printed in story ‘arcs’, which start in one issue (usually a random number, there isn’t really a set system) and end a few months down the line. It’s worth checking where in the arc a new issue is – you might have a lot of back story to hunt down.

These story arcs are compiled into graphic novels. This is where I started. Buying paperbacks are easier than hunting down issue after issue, and they’re more readily available (Waterstones has a reasonable selection).

When it comes to where to buy – this is Northern Ireland. We are not swamped with options. Forbidden Planet is a tad expensive, but it is convenient, and they have variety. Always nice when you are new and impressionable.

If you prefer not to leave your house/cave/fortress of solitude, then there is the internet. I don’t shop a lot online, because I don’t always trust that issues will be in great condition.

I’m paranoid like that.

I have used http://www.mycomicshop.com/ and http://www.thecomicbookstore.co.uk/, and they are pretty good. Remember that in most cases, you’ll be ordering from America, and delivery can be a slow and costly bitch.

Anyway. This has turned into an essay, but it needed to be, promise.

Research, ask, enjoy. Easy.

S.

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